NEWS20 April 2018

Vince Cable calls for tech giants to be broken up

Data analytics Europe News Privacy Public Sector Technology UK

UK – Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has called for regulators to consider breaking up large internet companies and raised the issue of whether people should be paid for the use of their personal data.

Vince cable_crop

Cable (pictured) said the internet’s infrastructure is effectively being monopolised by a few large companies, including Facebook, Google and Amazon, and compared their market dominance to that of the US oil players of the past.

During a speech yesterday ( 19 April) reported by the Guardian, he said: “Data is the new oil. Data is the raw material which drives these firms and it is control of data which gives them an advantage over competitors. These companies have acquired their pivotal position by providing a service or platform through which data can be extracted, collected and used.”

He called for the UK government and the EU to look to break up enterprises “where size is detrimental to the economic wellbeing of the country, its citizens and its capacity for innovation”.

Cable also said it is time to consider whether companies who profit from the use of individuals’ personal data should pay the owner of the data, citing a paper from economists at Microsoft, Columbia and Stanford that argued data should be treated as labour

“If individuals were paid every time their data is used anywhere in the world, in a mirror of the worldwide copyright structure, there would be a mechanism for redistributing the profits of those with most to gain from technological advances, into the pockets of those who are most likely, in the short term at least, to lose,” he said.

By “empowering” people to choose what companies to sell their data to, he added, it would no longer be “monopolised by the tech giants, and innovative insurgents could buy the data they needed instead of letting themselves be bought up to access the giants’ data pools.”